B

AB2 Support individuals who are substance users

Overview

For this standard you need to support individuals who are substance users by enabling them to adopt safe practices, providing care and support following an episode of substance use and supporting individuals’ efforts to reduce or cease substance use. Substances would include alcohol, opiates, hallucinogenics, amphetamines, cannabis, prescribed medication, solvents and other volatile substances; their use may be experimental, recreational or dependent.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. substance use which is legal and illegal (including the illegal use of prescribed drugs), agency policy and how this affects the role of the worker (e.g. if individual is using illegal drugs - the ways of dealing with this)
  2. legislation relating to the supply and use of substances, and to particular individual groups (e.g. Children Act) and how these affect your role and responsibilities
  3. legislation and agency policies and guidelines on the storage and use of substances (including Health and Safety at Work Act) and your role in relation to these
  4. resources within and outside the agency to assist the substance user to control or minimise the risks of the use (such as a supply of new syringes, accommodation, rehabilitation centres)
  5. the different specialist advice/therapy agencies and national/local support networks involved in supporting substance users
  6. resources within and outside the agency available to assist the substance user to cease or reduce use, including the different specialist advice/therapy agencies and national/local support networks involved in supporting substance users
  7. your role and responsibilities in relation to the individual and how these should affect any relationship between you and the individual
  8. the different forms of substance which individuals might use, how they are used (e.g. drinking, injecting, sniffing, smoking) and their likely effects
  9. the ways in which individuals may combine substances and the different effects which might arise from this
  10. the risks involved with substance use both in the short and the long term (such as overdose, dependence, associated health risks such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C)
  11. different forms of cleanliness (from social cleanliness to sterilisation) and the links between forms of cleanliness and harm reduction strategies (such as the re-use of needles)
  12. the range of activities that may be affected by substance use and harm-reduction strategies that can be adopted in relation to these
  13. harm reduction strategies, how and why these may differ from individual to individual
  14. the range of safer sex practices and how individuals can be encouraged to use these
  15. hazardous materials and equipment, nature of the hazard that they create and safe methods for disposing of them (and the available options given the facilities that the individual has access to)
  16. the indicators of substance use the different forms of substance which individuals might use and their likely effects (in order to be able to recognise the abnormal and potential health emergencies)
  17. the risks involved with substance use both in the short and the long term (such as overdose, dependence, associated health risks)
  18. the indicators of pain, discomfort and that the effects of the substance are posing a significant threat to a individual’s well-being (such as alcohol poisoning, overdose) and the action that should be taken in relation to each
  19. the range of after-effects of substance use and what the needs of the individual may be following substance use
  20. how views of substance use may differ
  21. your role in the environment and the boundaries and limits of that role
  22. the impact which your feelings may have on the support which can be effectively offered to the individual
  23. factors that influence individuals to use substances and how these may be inter-related or combine
  24. reasons why individuals decide to reduce or cease substance use
  25. the range of potential effects of reducing or ceasing substance use upon relationships, life-style, recreation and leisure activities, physical and emotional health
  26. the type of difficulties that are likely to arise in attempting to cease or reduce substance use and strategies and methods for alleviating them
  27. the effects which your own beliefs and feelings about substance use may have on your behaviour and why it is important to work with individuals in a supporting and non-judgmental manner, even when your own beliefs conflict with the individual’s actions
  28. methods of moving and handling individuals which are likely to be the safest for you and the individual and why individuals should be moved only when necessary
  29. emergency aid for situations where the substance causes a health emergency
  30. methods of supporting individuals at times when they have used substances
  31. how to assist individuals to make realistic assessments of their progress and how you can offer views in a supportive manner
  32. ways of supporting individuals who are seeking to reduce or cease substance use
  33. the importance of acknowledging and dealing with your own feelings in relation to the substance use concerned
  34. why the language used should be consistent with the individual’s own form of expression (for example, not clinical) and strategies that can be used to maximise the possibility of information being heard and understood
  35. why the individual should be supported to talk through their circumstances and history of substance use
  36. why the individual should be supported to contact others for further advice and assistance and the forms which such support and assistance might take
  37. methods of making one’s presence and availability obvious to the individual without attracting aggressiveness etc
  38. why the individual should be supported to describe any pain or discomfort which they are experiencing
  39. the importance of assisting individuals to meet their own needs and requirements after the effects of the substance have worn off and ways of doing this
  40. why information should be reported and recorded
  41. why it is important to review with individuals their reasons for deciding to reduce or cease substance use and the motivational effects of this
  42. the importance of acknowledging individual’s rights in making decisions regarding their use of substances
  43. individuals’ rights in making decisions regarding their health, including their right to ignore advice

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. ensure your communication with individuals about substance use and its associated risks is at a time and in a manner likely to maximise the likelihood of the individual understanding it
  2. explain the risks to individuals from the substances taken and the methods used in a manner, and at a level and pace appropriate to them
  3. offer individuals guidance, support and advice on ways in which methods of substance use and activities affected by it can be practised more safely
  4. support individuals who wish to use supplies of safe drugs, equipment and other materials to do so in a manner which is appropriate and consistent with their right of choice
  5. support and encourage individuals to dispose of hazardous materials and equipment in a safe manner and place immediately after use
  6. encourage and support individuals to discuss their circumstances and history of substance use and this information is used to plan and provide appropriate support and assistance
  7. give support and assistance to contact people who can help where individuals ask for further information and advice which is beyond your role
  8. ensure your actions to support individuals who have used substances are consistent with your agreed role and agency policies and procedures
  9. make individuals aware that you are available and willing to help
  10. ensure your interaction with individuals is in a manner which recognises each individual’s needs and rights
  11. ensure your actions to support individuals are appropriate to the substance used, the effect which the substance has had and the condition of the individual
  12. encourage individuals to describe any pain or discomfort which they are experiencing
  13. move and handle individuals with the minimum of discomfort and only where it is necessary for their safety
  14. request further support and assistance needed to help the individual without delay
  15. make the environment as safe as possible and remove all dangerous substances and materials
  16. support and enable individuals to meet their needs and requirements after the effects of the substance have worn off
  17. clearly and accurately report information about episodes of substance use to an appropriate person and record it in the required format
  18. encourage individuals who have made a commitment to reduce substance use to review their reasons for doing so
  19. identify and explore the effects of the individual’s choice on their daily life and any difficulties which they might have in a supportive manner
  20. identify accurately and discuss in detail strategies and methods for alleviating difficulties encountered by the individual
  21. communicate with individuals in a manner, and at a level and pace, appropriate to them
  22. offer support to individuals in a manner which respects their individual rights and choice, and is appropriate to their needs and is realistic within the limits of the resources available
  23. give appropriate support and assistance to contact people who can help individuals who ask for advice and support which is beyond your role
  24. assist individuals to review their progress in reducing substance use, realistically assess their achievements and identify opportunities for improvement
  25. accurately and fully record the results of discussions on progress and any proposals for changes and pass these promptly to an appropriate person
  26. acknowledge and manage your own feelings about the individual’s progress or lack of this in such a way as to minimise their impact on the support provided

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.  It also appears in the Health and Social Care Standards

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to address health and wellbeing needs

This standard has replaced HSC379.
AB2 Support individuals who are substance users
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk
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